Diary: February 2021. Uncut

MONDAY 1 The policing of space could soon become a hot potato. With the launch of 10 new pocket satellites, the space space immediately surrounding Earth is a teeming electronic rave of around 1,500 of these 1kg devices. The latest batch were catapulted into the heavens from the wing of an old Boeing 474 called Cosmic Girl.

πŸ“Œ Something called Gamestop is in the news and the BBC has a useful explainer for dummies like me.

πŸ“Œ Trying to learn the piano on a iPad with a free app is quite a humiliating experience. The simplified version of the Blue Danube is especially shaming.

πŸ“Œ Twitter is not all about trolling and shameless self-promotion.

TUESDAY 2 The Morning Star has a fascinating essay by the Marx Memorial Library on what Imperialism looks like in the 21st Century.

πŸ“Œ The Law of Diminishing Virulence tells us that over time the SARS-COV-2 virus will fizzle out to something resembling the common cold. New variants such as the B117 strain currently visiting Britain with deadly effect appear to turn the theory on its head, so don’t expect life “as normal” to return anytime soon.

πŸ“Œ At the Guardian coffee/chat we got to see a new archive resource Ellie has been working on. I miss my days at the Archive, scrutinising and cataloguing ancient photos, so this was a nice reminder of better times.

πŸ“Œ Michelle wants a rethink on the ethos of the studio and its “message”. It doesn’t easily fit into the Outsider Art/Naive Art category. We need to take ownership of the studio’s identity and find a way to describe it. “Discovery Through Art” (the current motto) works for me, but maybe not for others.

πŸ“Œ The success of the vaccine rollout has been one of only a few positives in an ocean of negatives for the government. But unless the PM learns from the successes and failures, argues the Guardian, the future can in no way be viewed as a sunny place.

πŸ“Œ In Succession, I think Shiv is about to be shivved by her dad. And Roman is developing a weird sexual thing with Gerri.

πŸ“Œ He tried to do some good before it was his turn.

πŸ“Œ A last-minute change of eye colour from blue to brown will haunt this project until it falls apart under the weight of potatoes.

Based on an original sketch

WEDNESDAY 3 The Wellcome Collection has some good-looking online resources I’m keen to check out.

πŸ“Œ The efficacy of the various vaccines have become a national conversation. It won’t be long before some nerd invents Vaccine Envy as a psychological condition.

πŸ“Œ At our 10.30 Zoom Chris went into a bit of a rant about co-production. He sounded like a raving Trot.

πŸ“Œ The pizza-style flatbread from yesterday’s dough came out well, a bit like a fougasse.

πŸ“Œ The planning of our new kitchen is progressing stressfully, with my wife reporting some difficulty communicating in “bloke language”.

πŸ“Œ My wife got fire hydrants in her I’m Not A Robot picture. I always get traffic lights.

πŸ“Œ One blogger I follow, ZoΓ«, is always happy to say how much she hates beards. And I don’t imagine the invention of the “Monkey Tail” will change her mind.

The Monkey Tail

THURSDAY 4 The theory of marginal gains is starting to look more and more credible with Liverpool’s home defeat to Brighton. The home advantage of the “12th man” (noisy fans) has maybe been more important than anyone ever imagined.

πŸ“Œ There are people I haven’t seen for so long I might have started to forget they exist. I can only presume there were once people in my life who were “just there”. They will have had a “soft” influence on me and a weird form of grief might strike if I ever see them again.

πŸ“Œ The Labour Party is trying to spruce up its national image with flags and making a mess of it.

πŸ“Œ The simple truth is that quarantine costs.

Read the full story

πŸ“Œ Social media has democratised trading and investment, claims an article in The Conversation, which goes some way to painting a more sober picture of the GameStop sensation.

πŸ“Œ At today’s Headway Art CafΓ© I tested the Valentine’s Rose simplified monoprint I will do for Shirley’s workshop on 14 February. It took 45 minutes.

Valentine’s Rose

We’ve still yet the crack the echo noise problems that kick in when two Zoomers attempt to join the same meeting in the same room.

FRIDAY 5 The Morning Star is digging into Keir Starmer’s dark past as an agent of the deep state. He was Director of Public Prosecutions in Tony Blair’s New Labour government and made a few moves that make Priti Patel look like Bambi.

πŸ“Œ At the Headway Home Studio we tackled the Madonna & Child image that has prevailed throughout history. I found the homunculus versions hilarious and had to put my Zoom setting on mute because I was laughing so hard. Then I got a bit over-fascinated by Madonna’s left hand, which I inverted for some reason, so rather than cradling the baby Jesus (who looked like an ageing pub darts player) she was patting his imaginary head in a creepy horror movie.

Madonna’s left hand

Emily painted her entire composition in coffee.

SATURDAY 6 On the ’47 Synonyms for Odour’ website I found MEPHITIC.

πŸ“Œ From Hero to Zero. Chancellor Rishi Sunak was not long ago seen as the government’s safest pair of hands. Now he’s being dubbed the Most Dangerous man in Britain.

πŸ“Œ Luke reports his third case of lithium-ion battery bulge. I’d like to think I know what he’s talking about, but I don’t.

SUNDAY 7 The Folk Show did its level best to address the gender imbalance in the current sea shanty craze by playing salty old sailing songs sung by women. But the fact is that in shanty culture all women are mermaids.

πŸ“Œ The drawing function in the PicsArt app is a lot more versatile than I first thought.  

Twig & Leaf

πŸ“Œ At the allotments AGM a group of bossy seniors got hooked on a flaky biodiversity theme and wouldn’t stop. Others argued that to demarcate an area of the allotments as wilderness was a nice idea, but that in pandemic times children need safe places to play, and that an integrated space in the allotments would be ideal. To be continued

πŸ“Œ In the JΓΌrgen Klopp biography I’m reading, the author Anthony Quinn references a BBC documentary, Morning in the Streets as depicting the Liverpool he grew up in. It was almost identical to mine. The war rubble was our playground. One of the children playing at scrubbing a doorstep looked like my cousin Kate.

πŸ“Œ Once again it’s the sniffer dogs that are the heroes of a crime drama. The imported Swedish cadaver dogs in The Investigation (Danish noir) were able to locate the missing head of a murdered journalist. Dogs, their handler informed us, have 200 million scent receptors compared with a meagre 5-6m owned by humans.

MONDAY 8 Killing Eve actor Jody Comer has confessed to using mint sauce on her roast chicken. And Twitter has been over-run with users claiming that actor Sheridan Smith is NOT the character Sausage from TV’s Masked Singer.

πŸ“Œ There’s still a Limbo vibe out there. Until now I haven’t even bothered to learn what all the buttons do on Zoom because I always ran with the idea that it was temporary. Now I’d quite like to become competent. Yesterday, using an old smartphone as one camera and an iPad as a main camera, I joined a Zoom Room twice. Today, during two meetings, one with a new Australian online art platform called Art et al. and the other with Chris to chat over co-production strategies, I started to embrace Zoom as a real tool. I think I might even have started “performing” to the Zoom camera. I’m going for a carefree look at the moment, with minimal movement but a few props.

πŸ“Œ The last mappy stitchwork project, which featured the original supercontinent Pangaea, was unsatisfying.

Pangaea

The City of London, depicting the Square Mile’s 25 wards, is far more enjoyable.

City of London

TUESDAY 9 The Economist reckons Trump will wriggle off the hook. Proving conclusively that he kicked off the insurrectionary attack on the Capitol is too tough a task, they say.

πŸ“Œ Hearing Coldplay’s Paradise still reminds me of the 2012 London Olympics. The chorus was played loudly during the medal awards in the Paralympic Games.

πŸ“Œ The Conversation says Sweden’s mask policy is even more shambolic than Britain’s. “You have to wear a mask while on public transport… Unless you have a reserved seat. Or you were born after 2004. Or if it’s between 9am and 4pm, or 6pm and 7am.”

πŸ“Œ The Morning Star reports complaints from Corbynists that Keir Starmer is acting like Gagger-in-Chief.

πŸ“Œ Children exposed to excessive air pollution grow up with poor thinking skills, new research says.

πŸ“Œ As I got to the front door I caught a whiff identical to the smell of the hospital day room I lived in for 4 months after my stroke in 2012.

WEDNESDAY 10 It is starting to look like a quirk of history that each century puts out cover versions of the previous one.

From the Morning Star

πŸ“Œ The Arcola theatre in Hackney is talking to scientists about how it can organise its spaces to reduce Covid transmission.

πŸ“Œ The UK government’s post-Brexit policy of enemy-building is crawling into action.

πŸ“Œ We can’t say we weren’t warned. Zoom is fast becoming part of the entertainment industry. Recently we saw a sickeningly misogynist attack on Jackie Weaver, a hapless official put in charge of a rural council meeting. And today comes a Texas lawyer whose Zoom filter got stuck and he appeared before a judge as a wide-eyed white cat.

THURSDAY 11 At Headway’s Zoom Art CafΓ© I tried to devise an etching style of printing using old shoe polish and a rolling pin. Not surprisingly, it failed miserably, the worst being this attempt at a Picasso.

Picasso in shoe polish

πŸ“Œ Health Secretary Matt Hancock wants to seize control of the NHS. It wasn’t long ago that state ownership was seen by Conservatives to be a dangerous slide towards socialism. Nowadays, every twist and turn of government policy looks more and more like it came straight from the playbook of Tony Blair’s New Labour.

πŸ“Œ Holidays have become a human-rights issue.

πŸ“Œ Sam sent a self-portrait. I’m wondering if she will ever return to her trademark black-and white ink creations.

Self Portrait, by Sam Jevon
David Bowie, by Sam Jevon

πŸ“Œ The Mirror used to do a lot of these types of stories.

Read the full story…

FRIDAY 12 The Harry Styles song about treating people with kindness is an improbable cramming of childlike utterings into an equally improbable but very catchy word jumble.

πŸ“Œ It’s an open secret that locally, medics are using common sense and vaccinating whenever the opportunity arises.

From the Guardian…

πŸ“Œ It took about 30 seconds to pick these teams.

πŸ“Œ The Ecologist is often bang on the button these days, and today they’ve even got a decent free book download on offer.

πŸ“Œ This week’s Headway Home Studio was all about selfies. I wasn’t originally intending to join in, but a late spirit of caricature and absurdity swept in so I attempted a cartoon.

I Am Not A Cat, by Billy Mann

πŸ“Œ One of the idioms in the ‘How To Speak Emoji’ book I got for Christmas is: πŸš«πŸ‘™πŸ”€. It means “Don’t get your knickers in a twist”.

SATURDAY 13 It seems that at this time of year restaurant waiting staff like nothing more than to exchange stories of romantic meals gone wrong. They all have their own version of the man who arrived at the restaurant fully expecting soon to become a would-be groom only to end up having to down a nearly-full bottle of champagne all on his own. Google is a helpful source of these stories, too.

πŸ“Œ Tim Dowling’s adventures as a DIY bodger bear a striking resemblance to my own.

From the Guardian

πŸ“Œ One of our neighbours just told us they were a Thermomix Advisor. I had to Google that.

πŸ“Œ This is the type of discrimination we thought we’d never see in our lifetimes.

Read the full story…

Liverpool’s chronic decline in form was not made less depressing with the sight of Dawn at our front door with a belated bottle of MoΓ«t for my birthday.

πŸ“Œ Did I just hear someone say the English stole Stonehenge off the Welsh?

πŸ“Œ Gill sent us some photos of icicles on Blackfriars Bridge and on the Barbican waterfall. Cazz-Ann posted some from a frozen Vicky Park and Connie of some ducks pond-skating in Ruskin Park.

πŸ“Œ Lockdown has turned into the media Silly Season we only used to get during the Summer months.

πŸ“Œ Stuart just worked out that Jello Biafra’s real name is Eric Boucher.

SUNDAY 14 Joss Stone was revealed to be Sausage on TV’s The Masked Singer, which seemed to generate some excitement.

πŸ“Œ Series 2 of The Bay understandably left its best move to the end of the last episode – a crime of passion hidden in plain view.

πŸ“Œ The media is having a close look at the NHS reforms announced this week. In a good summary of where we’re at Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer concludes: “It is not self-evident that the best answer to the health service’s many challenges is more Matt Hancock.”

πŸ“Œ In the morning we did our first double act presenting a Zoom monoprinting workshop for Shirley’s carers group. It was a simple basic introduction with a group of seven, which is ideal for the kind of social workshop I feel comfortable hosting. In the afternoon we crawled under the heated blanket and watched News of the World on Netflix, a lovely and quietly compelling film about national identity starring Tom Hanks and an amazing young German actor, Helena Zengel.

πŸ“Œ Clearing out a cupboard in preparation for the arrival of building workers tomorrow unearthed an astonishing amount if ancient booze – which included an anonymous bottle of green liquid.

Hate to think what this is…

MONDAY 15 The building workers arrived late, but they did arrive. One was especially keen to chat about football.

πŸ“Œ An article in the Guardian Weekly magazine details the plight of the Russian anti-Putin campaigner Alexei Navalny. All the way through the piece Navalny and his supporters speak of their reformist project as being Russia’s destiny and that the death of the old corrupt state machine is inevitable. Maybe not right now, but not too far into the future. If this is genuinely the case, it raises the possibility that one day Russia will be at the heart of Northern European social democracy. This fascinating stretch of the imagination gets even more interesting when Britain’s role as a non-EU member of that collection of nations comes into view. Britain, and notably London, is home to some of Russia’s richest ex-pats/exiles.

πŸ“Œ The Daily Star appears to have remodelled itself into a satirical paper.

TUESDAY 16 The impact of the Covid-19 virus has fallen hardest on those societies anthropologists and sociologists define as “loose”, where a tolerance to rule-breaking exists. “Tight” societies, by contrast, are ones where obedience to social codes prevail. These societies have been most successful in tackling infection and death rates.

πŸ“Œ Imagine the Scottish independence movement 10 years ago. That’s where Wales is on the UK separation scale, says Simon Jenkins.

πŸ“Œ The whole flat has the solvent stink of the waterproofing plasticiser Ian the builder has just slapped on our balcony in preparation for a new set of tiles.

πŸ“Œ I just heard that…

πŸ“Œ Several of the spectators’ comments on Liverpool’s win over Leipzig in the Champions League pointed to the apparent weakness of English Premier League referees in comparison with referees from other parts of the world.

WEDNESDAY 17 It’s probably not the best idea to change your Funeral Music every week, but it’s very tempting. Today it is Memories (Someone We’ll Never Know), by erstwhile Indie legend Clint Mansell from the film Moon. There’s a moment when all goes quiet and you can actually hear the workings of your inner organs.

πŸ“Œ Just a thought…

πŸ“Œ Before car became king, city streets were not just thoroughfares but children’s playgrounds. The middle of Skerries Road was where we learned to be people.

πŸ“Œ In Blood Relatives Ed McBain uses the word “squinched” to describe someone’s eyes. I presumed it to be a compound of squint and pinch. But “squinched” actually means arched.

πŸ“Œ For this week’s Zoom quiz with friends in Brighton we will ask them to distinguish Ikea furniture names from those of cheese. For example, is Bitto something from Ikea, or is it a cheese!

πŸ“Œ Marina Hyde on a tangent from Meghan and Harry.

Read the full story here…

THURSDAY 18 Space exploration takes a fresh step in the dark today with an attempt to plonk another roving vehicle onto the surface of Mars. Someone on the radio, speculating about a manned visit to the Red Planet in the next 10 years, explained that the best approach for a successful mission would be to launch a spacecraft from the Moon because its zero gravity would require less fuel for a take-off.

πŸ“Œ When real words sound like the inventions of children on a sugar rush.

FRIDAY 19 Words ending in ANCE are becoming the keywords for the times we live in. Perseverance is the name of the spacecraft that has just landed successfully on Mars, and endurance is something we have all been required to show in dealing with the pandemic.

πŸ“Œ There’s a spivvy-looking character on TV’s A New Place In The Sun who’s built a crazy-golf course in an ant-infested corner of Spain.

πŸ“Œ The Economist has a picturesque report showing the power of passive aggression. The Myanmar military coup has been stunted by citizens clogging up roads with fake breakdowns.

πŸ“Œ Our neighbourhood is so cinematic that film crews regularly invade the streets with their cranes, cameras and mobile catering units. If you’re lucky, you might even rent out your property to a film crew for the purposes of having Brad Pitt or Iris Elba shoot some baddy in the head. Seemingly naked women have been spotted cavorting just outside our front doors, only later to be revealed as actors in not-too convincing fleshtone bodysuits. Very often, the film crews simply arrive, shoot and disappear quickly, but today the letterbox contained the masterplan showing in advance where all the movie paraphernalia will be.

Roadmap to the box office…

πŸ“Œ Harry and Meghan have told the Queen they don’t want to work for her anymore. Or maybe it was the other way round.

πŸ“Œ Weird experience watching someone light up a cigarette on Zoom.

πŸ“Œ The new radiators are bigger than the old ones. Hopefully hotter, too.

πŸ“Œ The actor Pamela Anderson did a Zoom interview with a TV show from her bed. I once nearly did one from a hot bathtub but was prevented at the last minute in the grounds that it was wholly inappropriate.

πŸ“Œ When Luke, who lives in Austin, Texas, first complained of a power outage I thought it was the latest in the long line of property mishaps for which he is famous. Now I learn that he is cooking his food in a domestic fireplace using firewood donated by friendly neighbours.

πŸ“Œ Our local nail bar has a fascinating exterior design feature depicting two gigantic spermatozoa and a death mask.

Nail bar humour?

πŸ“Œ A letter in the Guardian asks politely… Please can the Covid-19 variant B117 be referred to as the β€œJohnson variant” rather than the β€œKent” or β€œEnglish” variant, to clearly attribute it to those who provided the conditions for its development?
Marion Helme
Malvern, Worcestershire

SATURDAY 20 I think I’m getting quite good at self-portraits.

Found my oeuvre at last

πŸ“Œ My grammatical pedantry has pushed Stuart into a silly game of Punctuation Punning, in which he says things like after his brain injury he was in a comma for 3 weeks. He even tried to turn the word “gerund” into a medical condition, shortly after he’d recovered from a bad case of “subjunctivitus”, a rare affliction affecting mainly French people.

πŸ“Œ There’s an elephant in the room. A very small one, yes. But elephant’s have such beautiful eyes that it’s hard to avoid copping a sneaky glimpse.

The elephant’s name is Building Chaos, as we prepare for the arrival of a one-man team who will rip up and replace our living-room floor, then fit a new kitchen. When this happens (soon), we will migrate upstairs to the spare bedroom, which we intend to adapt into a living/eating/lounging area before the work begins.

The most fragile issue facing us right now is where to site the TV. Our viewing for the duration will be restricted to on-demand platforms such as Prime, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and All4. That’s no great sacrifice, but our puny WiFi signal will only reach one half of the soon-to-be adapted bedroom. The TV therefore needs to be positioned for maximum reception capability. 

This raises an interior design challenge. Bickering started some time ago when I suggested that since a full wine rack is already part of the furniture in that room, we might find space in our new lounge for a kettle and a microwave oven. The idea was rejected immediately and a stony silence on the matter has been par for the course ever since.

Today a tiny beam of light crept in when we agreed that Marks & Spencer ready meals would be our staple diet for however long it takes to emerge from the Building Chaos. Then we started scheduling TV programmes and films to fill the time. We will start by catching up with the rest of the world on Death in Paradise (we’re on Series 6), intermingled with Series 2 of Big Little Lies. Then, if time permits, we will introduce ourselves to the entire Buffy the Vampire Slayer collection, another small-screen phenomenon we’ve never seen.

I sense we’ve wandered on to common ground, where food and films pave the way to peace and reconciliation. It would be insane to let a kettle and a microwave oven make a mess of that.

πŸ“Œ The news that Harry Redknapp is to appear in EastEnders will no doubt put a smile on millions of British faces. The rest of us simply ponder on how the scriptwriters will work his love of jam roly-polys into a storyline.

SUNDAY 21 We learned from a radio programme that cronies went to Cambridge University and chums to Oxford.

πŸ“Œ Sam returned to black and white for a picture of Dolly Parton. It was like revisiting an old friend after all the colour work she has been doing recently.

Dolly Parton, by Sam Jevon…

Then 4 hours later she made a fool of me by sending this…

πŸ“Œ Caution and prudence are words that stick in Boris’s throat, says Andrew Rawnsley.

Read all about it…

πŸ“Œ Part 2 of the My Own Mona Lisa wax monoprinting workshop was enjoyable. Harshita’s was my favourite.

Lisa Gherardini, by Harshita…

πŸ“Œ In our TV viewing schedule, Kris Marshall has left St Marie for a life of love in London with Martha (aka, Lucy from Not Going Out). Meanwhile back in the Caribbean, Ardal O’Hanlon has slipped effortlessly into his seat in the HonorΓ© police station and the prospect of Father Dougal McGuire investigating dastardly crimes perpetrated in paradise is very exciting.

πŸ“Œ Matt Hancock has been fingered for slipping Β£30m in government contracts to his local pub landlord.

MONDAY 22 Big downsides of Pandemia include: Someone knocking on your front door at unearthly times of the day with that thing you bought online.

πŸ“Œ The 25 wards of the City of London were a stitchwork challenge. I intended to memorise them all but failed badly.

City of London stitchwork tote

πŸ“Œ One of the contestants on a TV quiz show has the name Pooee. A namecheck website states: “the name Pooee invokes exuberance, meticulousness and kindness”. Urban Dictionary reveals that a Pooee is: “the combination of urinating and pooing at the same time… it is often shouted during the process in an exaggerated, high-pitched voice”.

TUESDAY 23 The excitement around the Prime Minister’s “roadmap” out of lockdown has once again revealed a British public hopelessly hooked on foreign travel. It is seen as an absolute right rather than a luxury. This is depressing.

πŸ“Œ Stephen Bush in the New Statesman argues that the PM has “too strong an appetite for uniformity of suffering in lockdown” and that socialising outdoors should be fast-tracked because the risks are small.

πŸ“Œ The new stitchwork tote bag is a badly drawn map of India.

India, in stitches…

πŸ“Œ Angela says Dancing on Ice has been jinxed by a series of celebrity injuries. I said I only watch it to see if someone falls over.

πŸ“Œ New from the Crackpot Ideas Dept. “Anglesey” Police Committee votes to stop funding the investigation of cold cases. An eccentric bunch of locals decide this is a bad idea and take on the job themselves.

WEDNESDAY 24 A new podcast featuring Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen sounded kike a recipe for tedious liberal American smugness. But it’s nothing of the kind. Listening to the duo exchange childhood stories was like settling into a really good book.

πŸ“Œ If the Labour Party isn’t careful, the Tories will slip in a popular candidate and win the Liverpool Mayoral election. The Morning Star says that the intent behind Starmer’s latest order is “to keep a socialist out of a position where socialist policies can be put directly to the electorate or aired on the national stage. It forms part of a wider effort to put the movement that attracted millions under Corbyn back in the box, to disarm a mass party membership with ideas above their station and to banish anti-capitalism to the political fringe.” Labourlist takes a softer line on the issue.

πŸ“Œ My wife’s favourite Monkee was Peter Tork.

πŸ“Œ I always thought that since my stroke I suffered from pronounced “phone anxiety”. I couldn’t speak to people I couldn’t see. Still can’t. But it turns out that this is more a case of “telephobia”. Full-blown phone anxiety is apparently running riot among millennials.

πŸ“Œ Marina Hyde today is “literally (and metaphorically)” spot on.

πŸ“Œ The new balcony tiling appears not to be 100% successful. There is some run-off pooling in one corner. A drainage channel is required.

THURSDAY 25 Stuart sent a poem that referenced Jammy Dodgers and I tried and failed to write one in reply… Jammy Dodgers aren’t what they used to be.
In the Winter cold the jam went rock hard.
The biscuit brittle on the snap.
Another line that rhymes with snap.
Then one that rhymes with be.

πŸ“Œ Discovered a retro relic while clearing some desk space. I like to imagine techno geeks wetting themselves over this solar-powered “pocket calculator”.

The imaginatively named TI-1006…

πŸ“Œ At the Headway Art CafΓ© I tried to etch and print Frida Kahlo into a piece of wood laminate we got as a sample for our new flooring.

Frida Kahlo in wood…

πŸ“Œ There is presumably a recognised 21st Century condition called Petition Fatigue. But sometimes an issue can cut through. The campaign to stop US companies taking over doctors’ surgeries is a good example.

πŸ“Œ Sam sent her Dubuffet-inspired portrait of Michelle in full face paint.

Michelle, by Sam Jevon…
Jean Dubuffet Self-Portrait II, 1966…

πŸ“Œ In the Zoom quiz with Brighton friends, Dave asked a “random fish question”. The answer was chubb. We did Ikea or Death Metal?

FRIDAY 26 The much-trumpeted March 8 return for school pupils is already off course with a slew of “guidelines” that spell chaos (bi-weekly testing and mask-wearing are not compulsory).

πŸ“Œ The anti-vaccination voice is getting louder, so someone decided to step in and tell it like it is…

From The Mirror…

πŸ“Œ I like to think every country in the world has its own version of the “Yellow Penguin” story.

From the Guardian…

πŸ“Œ The moral question of the day is whether Full Fact is more worthy than 38 Degrees of my Β£4 monthly donation.

πŸ“Œ Today’s Headway Home Studio was all about different points of view. First we sketched the underside of a giraffe, then a weird Antipodean forest-floor-roaming creature that had unusually been spotted high in a tree by an attentive photographer.

πŸ“Œ The increasing resemblance of Conservative polices on Corporation Tax to those of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn provides a neat intro to Paul Waugh’s column in HuffPost UK. In LabourList, Sienna Rodgers outlines the contortions that amount to Labour playing cheeky tricks with the issue.

πŸ“Œ As cricket contriversies go, the state of the pitch is a small one. Nevertheless…

SATURDAY 27 A year ago we were awaiting the arrival of Storm Jorge. On the TV it looked cute.

Storm Jorge…

πŸ“Œ It looks like the Faye Caton Memorial Birdbath is happening after about 5 years of me moaning about it. It will be a nice reminder of her sitting peacefully, tending her tomatoes and topping up the feeder.

In memory of Faye…

πŸ“Œ A new series of Unforgotten has just started so we are binge-watching the first three series to bring us up to speed. We’re also eager to get started on Man in Room 301.

πŸ“Œ The Mirror reports a modern misery story all too familiar as the standard of new-build homes sinks deeper and deeper. Each day seems to bring a new example.

πŸ“Œ Finding non-meat ready meals in Marks & Spencer is going to be fun in the coming weeks.

πŸ“Œ A story about spinach sending emails is impossible to ignore.

πŸ“Œ The We Own It campaign group is indignant that Serco, the notoriously inept contractor gifted vast sums by our government, is to restart paying its shareholders dividends after a 6-year break.

πŸ“Œ In a detective show on TV, the murdered man was described as “belligerent”. I asked my wife what single word she would use to describe a murdered me. She said “fusspot”.

SUNDAY 28 One blogger I follow, always good for a droll remark, reported that: “On the poetry front, things are going pretty much as you would expect.” He then referenced a poetry magazine called Obsessed With Pipework.

πŸ“Œ In a column about the Salmond-Sturgeon war of words, Andrew Rawnsley guesses whether their public spitting match will convert into lost votes for the SNP, but ultimately concludes: “Even a badly damaged SNP will be a great deal more popular in Scotland than he [Boris] can ever hope to be.”

πŸ“Œ The last of the three Zoom monoprinting workshops became what I always wanted it to be, which is a shared storytelling exercise hung on a creative activity. One of the group was married to a world famous physicist. Another had a brush with death in a whitewater rafting mishap.

πŸ“Œ Very excited to find Sam’s Madonna & Child in my inbox.

Madonna & Homunculus, by Sam Jevon…

πŸ“Œ Mike Baldwin RIP.

πŸ“Œ A class apartheid is growing around vaccination, says Nick Cohen. And it could get very ugly indeed.

πŸ“Œ Stuart felt the need to tell me about Uncle Jack and Auntie Peggy’s stupid Labrador Spats, whose ability to defecate in hidden locations around the home was β€œawesome”.

Read all of my Diaries.

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